Nigeria is in on the brink – with a war against the evil Boko Haram sect that threatens its existence – and desperately in need of true patriots who would stand for and by her, especially at this critical time.
While we, daily, go about our private businesses, some brave men and women are constantly risking their lives for our common good, as the battle against the insurgent rages on. In the bid to protect you and I – and our territorial integrity – some of our gallant soldiers have lost their lives, leaving families and loved ones behind.
Unfortunately, the sacrifice of these fallen heroes doesn’t seem to be appreciated enough, and the courageous men and women who continue in the fight are not getting the encouragement and support they deserve. This hasn’t done well for their morale!
There was a time in this country when donning the military uniforms filled our soldiers with a great sense of pride. And they served in love, and in strength, and with a sense of confidence that the nation was behind them – cheering them to victory and celebrating the fallen amongst them.
Now, more than ever, there is a strong need to reignite in our armed forces (and. Indeed, in all Nigerians) the same passion and patriotism, which the words and melody of that popular Armed Forces Remembrance Day song of the 80s and 90s sparked in Nigerians who were old enough at the time:
Today we remember our fallen heroes
Nigeria remembers you
You gave your life for a truly just cause
Nigeria remembers you
We salute you, your courage we adore
That Nigeria may be one,
Strong, united sovereign state
Nigeria remembers you
Undoubtedly, the government must take the lead role in this bid by putting in place better conditions of service for the armed forces, and demonstrating greater leadership and commitment in the fight against the terrorists. The recent acquisition of sophisticated weaponry and equipment – following years of neglect by successive regimes – is a great boost, and we must continue to upgrade, as well as improve the capacity of our men, in line with modern trends.
Terrorism is a global problem, and our politicians and parties must realize that Boko Haram is a common enemy that requires concerted effort to fight. We have spent way too much time fighting one another and, by so doing, emboldening the real enemy. We need to stop the further unwarranted criticism of our military and start giving credit when due.
The Nigerian press appears to have conceded its prime position in the coverage of the war to the international media whose interest cannot be said to be entirely pure. Our journalists must become more thorough in their investigation and research, andmore circumspect in their reports and analysis. Sensational headlines and false or exaggerated account of events do not help the fight – moderation is key. They should also do more to project the positive strides being made, as and when they happen.
Civil society groups can take a cue from neighbouring Niger Republic on how to rally support against the terrorists; street marches were recently organized across the country with clear messages targeted at the evil sect. The BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) group and other non-governmental organisations have done a commendable job of keeping the search for our missing girls alive…but they can do more!
Of course, “ordinary” Nigerian citizens like you and I can play an important role too. Wherever you may be – north, south, east, west, or even the diaspora – a clarion call to the service of our fatherland is being made to you today.
You can show your support for our troops by copying the message below (it is deliberately written in caps as a bold statement) and, substituting my name with yours, paste it on your Facebook wall and/or tweet it. You could also use the #IsupportNAF Display Picture (DP) on Whatsapp and BBM, or the #IsupportNAF Cover Photo on Facebook and Twitter.
It may seem an insignificant gesture but imagine that you were a member of the Nigerian armed forces, and you woke up to millions of such messages? Wouldn’t you feel greatly encouraged?
MY NAME IS TONY USIDAMEN, AND I SUPPORT NIGERIAN ARMED FORCES #IsupportNAF #NoToTerrorism
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
Tony Usidamen – a public relations consultant and social commentator – writes from Lagos.
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